Former Lawyers’ Testimony Ends In Myers Hearing

Tuesday’s testimony revolved around Patrick Baker’s attempts to defend John Myers in his 2006 murder trial.

morgan county courthouse

Photo: Stan Jastrzebski/WFIU News

John Myers' post-conviction hearing is being held at the Morgan County Courthouse.

The fifth day of a relief hearing for convicted murderer John Myers included a wrap-up of testimony by his former lawyer and witnesses testifying the previous counsel may have erred in its professional conduct.

Tuesday’s testimony revolved, as does the hearing in general, around the issue of impeaching Patrick Baker’s attempts to defend John Myers in his 2006 murder trial.

Baker admitted he made mistakes, both in his testimony and after he was let go from the stand, when he made personal appeals to Myers and his family and to Eric Behrman, whose daughter Jill was the victim in the case.

Baker told the court he was trying to abide by Myers’ wish for a speedy trial by trying the case in October of 2006, rather than in the Spring of 2007. He said he told Myers he needed more time to prepare, but “that wasn’t received too well.”

In the afternoon, Indiana Public Defenders Council board member Michael McDaniel testified about his reading of the initial trial documents and said he would have petitioned the court for money to pay experts and hire an investigator to depose the 100 or more people with knowledge of the case.  McDaniel also says he was puzzled Baker did not object more than he did during the trial.

Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega, who is essentially defending John Myers’ conviction, and by extension his previous legal counsel, says he thinks the hearing is about sour grapes.

“His heart was in defending John Myers, they’re just questioning his tactics,” he says. At the end of the day, we can second-guess all day long, especially when it doesn’t work.  That’s when you really second-guess.”

Another witness Tuesday, Morgan County Public Defender William Van Der Pol, told the court he had been assigned to Myers case and worried Baker approached Myers about being his lawyer under the guise that “an anonymous person” asked him to serve as counsel.

Van Der Pol says he brought his concerns to a disciplinary commission after the trial, but says he had no proof.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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